It is hard to start a fire with one stick of wood

from Wildlife Promise

West Virginia Rivers CoalitionThis week the National Wildlife Federation announced the expansion of our affiliate family welcoming West Virginia Rivers Coalition as our 47th state and territorial affiliate partner.

As we celebrate this important success and look forward to the growing strength of our conservation movement, we also remember how far we’ve come.

The goal of uniting hunters, anglers, gardeners, bird watchers, scientists, and families to speak together with one voice for conservation began as little more than a cartoonist’s dream 75 years ago.  Noted illustrator and conservationist Jay N. “Ding” Darling  used  his pen to highlight the need for diverse stakeholders to come together to protect wildlife for our children’s future, preserve our natural places, and ensure clean air and water for all.

The Conservation Interests Can Get What They Need If They Will Pull Together

The Conservation Interests Can Get What They Need If They Will Pull Together (Credit: The "Ding" Darling Wildlife Society; The University of Iowa)

Ding Darling’s cartoons and conservation ethic caught the attention of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who appointed him the head of the U.S. Biological Survey in 1934, the forerunner to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.  Darling understood that unity was politically powerful and that there was no nationwide constituency to support policies and funding for the conservation work that needed to be done.  Darling proclaimed, “It is hard to start a fire with one stick of wood!”

In 1936, after convincing President Roosevelt to invite over 2,000 hunters, anglers, and conservationists from across the country to attend the first North American Wildlife Conference in Washington, DC, Darling realized his dream of a federation promoting conservation interests, encouraging social diversity, and demanding action from Congress.  The National Wildlife Federation was formed and Ding Darling became the organization’s first President.

Three-quarters of a century later, the diversity and scope of our affiliate organizations remains central to the strength of the National Wildlife Federation.  It is hard to start a fire with one stick of wood, but as Ding Darling mused, [imagine] if you could ever get the firewood together in one pile.

Welcome West Virginia Rivers Coalition!

To learn more about the National Wildlife Federation’s affiliate network, please visit NWF.org.